What to expect
Even when we meet virtually, you can still expect the same VCU Writing Center experience. Consultations will be one-on-one and focused on your specific concerns and goals. Using all the virtual tools at our disposal, your consultant will collaborate with you to make you feel like a more confident writer.
We are happy to schedule online appointments for any stage of your writing process. You don’t have to have anything written to use this service. You can have an online consultation just to brainstorm ideas and find your best starting points.
- Consultations will be 45 minutes long.
- Online consultations will be held over Zoom.
- Tech issues making you a little late? After 20 minutes, your appointment will be marked as a no-show and you will need to reschedule.
- Be sure to call the Writing Center front desk at (804) 828-4851 if you need help or to reschedule your appointment.
How to schedule
During this time, we prefer to schedule appointments over the phone.
To make an appointment online, please visit Navigate. Please use our online guide for step-by-step instructions. Be sure to select the accurate online service [Online UGrad, Online ELP, or Online Grad Consultation] when self-scheduling.
You must include your VCU email address in the Appointment Details in order for your appointment to be scheduled. This will allow your consultant to email you the Zoom link at the time of your appointment.
You may also call the Writing Center front desk at (804) 828-4851 to speak to a shift leader who can help you set up an appointment.
We need at least two hours’ advance notice for online appointments. This allows your consultant to send your Zoom appointment link at the time of your appointment. You must have a stable internet connection, working webcam, and microphone to participate. Sign up for a Zoom account if you don’t already have one.
Working on a long-term project, or need a few appointments in a row? Our scheduling policy for online appointments is the same as for in-person:
- You can schedule one appointment per day. Sometimes our scheduling service, Navigate, will allow students to book more than one appointment per day. However, this is a scheduling error, and the later appointment in the day will be automatically canceled.
- You can schedule up to three appointments per week.
- You can schedule appointments as far in advance as you want - up through the end of the semester.
- At this time, we prefer to schedule appointments online or over the phone.
For some additional tips on how to make the most of your appointment, select a header below:
- Working Zoom account
- Tip: Before your appointment, make sure you have file sharing turned on in your Zoom settings. This will allow you to send any drafts of work or other documents (rubrics, syllabi, etc) to your consultant when your appointment begins. See Zoom Tips below for more information.
- Stable internet connection.
- Stable audio source.
- Draft(s) of your work, if applicable (Google Docs preferred. See our Google Docs Tips below for more information).
- Open mind for revision.
We ask that you do not send any documents ahead of time. Your consultant will not be able to read any drafts of your work prior to the time of your appointment.
Also, you do not need to turn on your camera if you do not feel comfortable. Lastly, you don’t need to have a draft! Brainstorming sessions are some of our favorite and most productive consultations.
After you schedule your appointment, you will receive a confirmation email with detailed instructions about how to use Zoom, as well as how appointments will work.
- Be sure to read the email carefully before your appointment to avoid any technical issues.
At the time of your appointment, you will now self check in online:
- Log into Navigate.
- In the “Student Home” section, find the “Upcoming Appointments” section on the right side of the screen under the quick links and current visits.
- In the “Upcoming Appointments” section, your appointment details will include the consultation type (online or in-person), the consultant (e.g. J. Doe), and the date & time.
- Directly below all of this information, click the green button labeled, “Check-In Online.”
- Upon clicking this button, a message will appear, saying, “You have checked in to see [Consultant Name] for [Consultation Type]. // Look out for an email, text, or phone call for next steps!”
At the time of your appointment, your consultant will email you the Zoom link to begin the consultation.
- After you have checked in, click the link to join your Zoom consultation.
- You must complete self-check in before joining the Zoom consultation.
You and your consultant will address your goals for the appointment, and get to work! This will involve you reading any drafts you have prepared out loud. If you are using Google docs, you and your consultant will work in “Suggesting” mode (See Google Docs Tips below).
- Reading aloud is a time tested revision tool - it’s a way to empower your voice and find your own mistakes.
- Screen-sharing is a great way to read aloud and follow along with your consultant (see Zoom Tips below for more information).
At the end of your appointment, you will now self check out online:
- Log into Navigate.
- In the “Student Home” section, find the “Current Visits” section under the quick links.
- Click the red button labeled “Check Out” under the appointment details.
Please honor the 45 minute consultation end mark. These times are set to allow consultants enough time to prepare for upcoming meetings and to allow you to move smoothly to your next online event.
- Restore original Google Doc settings:
- Under the “View” tab, click “Mode” → “Editing.” (Consultants will work with you in “Suggesting” mode during your appointment.)
- At the top right corner of your document, click “Share,” and select your consultant’s name and email address. Click the drop-down menu by their name and select “Remove.”
- If you would like your consultant to email your professor or advisor, share the professor/advisor’s email address through your chat at the end of your session.
- After an appointment is the perfect time to schedule another appointment!
- Go to vcu.zoom.us to review your Zoom settings.
- Under the “Meetings” settings section, enable “File transfer.”
- Select “Only allow specified file types.”
- Type “.doc,.docx,.pdf” into the box below.
- When your appointment begins, send any drafts as word documents or PDFs through file share using the chat function. You can also share Google Docs by giving your consultant access to the doc (see Google Docs Tips below).
- Go to vcu.zoom.us to review your Zoom settings.
- Under the “Meetings” settings section, enable “Screen Sharing.”
- For “Who can share?,” select “All participants.”
- Using headphones can help limit distracting background noise.
- Make sure you turn off mute when the appointment begins.
- If you encounter any audio issues, try muting and unmuting yourself.
- If audio issues persist (e.g. if your consultant cannot hear you), try leaving the appointment and rejoining. Be sure to inform your consultant if you leave via the chat, so they can send you a new link.
- You are not required to enable your camera if you prefer to use audio only.
- If using your camera, double-check that your background is appropriate.
Do not disturb
- Just as during in-person appointments, we ask that you give your full attention to working with your consultant.
- For Mac users, you can enable “Do Not Disturb” mode:
- Click the bullet points and three lines to the right of your time and spotlight search at the top, far right corner of the screen.
- Scroll up.
- Below “Night Shift,” enable “Do Not Disturb” mode.
Set your screen name as your first and last name. We encourage you to include your pronouns and preferred name. Click the “...” at the top right of your video. Select “Rename.”
Creating a Google Doc
- Go to drive.google.com.
- Click the “NEW” button, then “Google Docs,” then “Blank Template.”
- Start drafting!
Sharing a Google Doc
- At the top right corner of your document, click the blue “Share” button.
- Enter your consultant’s VCU email address in the “Add people and groups” field and click send.
- You can only do this after your consultant has sent you the Zoom link from their VCU email address (at the top of the hour).
- You may see a note that asks if you want to share outside of your organization. Click “Share Anyway.”
Using suggesting mode
- Click the “View” button in the menu bar (top of the screen).
- Go to “Mode,” then enable “Suggesting.”
- Any notes you or your consultant make will become suggestions for you to review later. This way, we remain collaborative even when remote.
Note about online sessions
In our online sessions, we aim to preserve the conversational nature of traditional writing consultations. Zoom makes an online consultation as much like an in-person appointment as possible. Online consultations may take a little longer and be a bit slower paced if there are any technical difficulties.
Since this is still a face-to-face, real-time exchange, both the consultant and the writer will participate. So expect to hold up your end of the conversation.
The Writing Center does not offer online editing and proofreading services. Online consultations are, however, great for further developing your ideas and discussing organization.